Personalization is the key to the future of grocery shopping, according to a recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers that was presented at Food Marketing Institute's FMI Connect conference in Chicago. The report, titled "Front of the line: How grocers can get ahead for the future," found that shoppers want their grocery experience to be custom-tailored to meet their needs, and they want more control over the loyalty rewards they receive.
"Shoppers are saying they want their supermarket to know 'who I am and what I want,'" Sabina Saksena, managing director of PricewaterhouseCoopers, told Supermarket News magazine. "Personalization is key. Retailers have to start thinking about data-driven insights."
According to the report, 60 percent of shoppers surveyed said that they'd be interested in custom coupons to make their shopping easier in the future. As far as loyalty rewards, 83 percent of respondents said that they wanted to be able to choose how to spend and receive points.
So what does this mean for your grocery store and food merchandising efforts? Here's how to make your operation more personalized.
Introduce custom coupons
Some grocery stores have started to make the shopping experience more personalized by using loyalty programs paired with computerized algorithms that produce custom coupons for shoppers based on their past buying experiences. Every item that gets placed in their shopping cart gets recorded, which can help you determine what they're most likely to purchase or would be interested in trying next time they come in.
Develop a mobile app
Bill Bishop, writing for Supermarket News, noted that a mobile app can help you introduce the idea of custom coupons to your store. It also enables direct communication between the customer and your venue, making it easy for shoppers to ask questions about purchases or plan trips. Apps can also let users create grocery lists based on their past buying history and choose coupons to present in-store, making the shopping experience more convenient. Expanding your food merchandising efforts to this digital realm is a great way to attract tech-savvy customers and keep them engaged.
Cater to customers' needs
Make each trip simpler by anticipating what customers want. Pay close attention to trends in the food industry and get the necessary grocery store supplies to ensure that you can present them attractively and effectively. Keep a close eye on the calendar and incorporate major holidays and events into your food merchandising efforts, like Christmas, back-to-school season, Valentine's Day and more. Make shopping for meals easier by setting up impulse buys like prepared foods and prepackaged meals using the appropriate food service equipment.
Engage shoppers with demos and samples
Demos and samples are a great way to make the shopping experience more fun and keep customers interested in what your store has to offer. Set up regular demos that either offer information on lesser-known products, show shoppers how to prepare a certain meal or educate people on how to plan healthier meals. Set up tables near displays with pamphlets about nutritional facts or related recipes that shoppers can use to take full advantage of their purchases. Offer samples for items that you think customers would be interested in.
Use customers' preferred communication method
Bishop wrote that one way to help personalize the shopping experience is to reach out to customers the way they like to be communicated with. Some people like the convenience of emails, while others like getting coupons in the mail. Still more prefer to be contacted through social media. Offer all of these options and let your customers decide which method is right for them. Identify their preferences when they sign up for a loyalty program and stick with it.
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